I was in my room listerning to music, when the house started shaking. The wall in my room fell, but not on me. I ran outside, and the roof had fallen on my mother. She lay pinned under the contcrete, yelling, “Somebody save me! Save me! Please I can’t breathe!” All I could do was sit there on the ground, while people ran by me in the streets screaming, and hold her hand til she died. Help did not arrive fast enough.
This story from Matso is all too common of people who surived the quake. Everyone lost someone. And everyone has a powerful story of survival and of loss to tell. The rescue efforts have taken a turn. Now it’s about keeping those who did survive the initial earthquake alive.
At Haitian Community Hospital, we did seven surgical cases, and almost all of them involved secondary wound care. Many of the injured Haitians are having to go back into surgery to clean out the wound and retreat it, because when they were first treated there weren’t the proper medical supplies. Many of those patients are getting infections and wound inflammation, because there just weren’t enough resources initially to treat their injury correctly.
Dr. Larsen, a plastic surgeon, and Dr. Goins, an orthopedic surgeon, both are from Atlanta and were recruited specifically to treat wound care through skin grafts and reconstructive surgery. Today was their first day at HCH, and they were each pulled from one room to the next to evaluate how to successfully operate on patients that were still injured from crush injuries, amputations and burns.
I will never forget the screams of pain from one boy as Dr. Larsen removed the dressings off his little leg, that had been broken in the quake. As Dr. Larsen tried to examine and calm the child, there was a woman in the bed beside him with an pelvic outerextremity cast on, unable to move, but she could sing and raise her hands in the air. And the woman in the bed next to her, lay there motionless as her daughter tenderly washed her feet and cared for her mother.
You may hear screams of pain, but you hear no complaints. In the midst of it all, the Haitian people do what they have to do to survive and keep living. When I asked Matso, “How are you doing now?” He simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m alive and I have God.”